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Willow Olivia Brown holds onto her guitar, her face painted for the occasion, at the Fiddlers Convention at Athens State University on Friday afternoon.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Willow Olivia Brown holds onto her guitar, her face painted for the occasion, at the Fiddlers Convention at Athens State University on Friday afternoon.

4-year-old feels force of Fiddlers
Mrs. Brown, you’ve got a lovely daughter: Athens convention is more than just fiddles

By Holly Hollman
hhollman@decaturdaily.com · 340-2445

ATHENS — At 41/2 years old, Willow Olivia Brown has felt the influence of Fiddlers.

She’s been coming to the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention at Athens State University since she was a baby.

On Friday, Willow’s face was covered in black, white and orange face paint designed to make her look like a cat. Perched in a chair, her feet peeking out from her dress, the Huntsville girl held a child-size guitar upright in her lap.

She plucked the strings like it was a bass and sang her ABCs. When a small crowd gathered around, she ducked her head from view.

Willow may outgrow her shyness and become a professional performer when she grows up, but not until she has established herself in the medical field.

“I’m going to be a doctor for animals first, not a doctor for people, but a doctor for animals,” she said.

That’s because Willow figures she can make enough money as a doctor to be able to perform. When her family tried to talk to her about budgeting money, she retorted, “I won’t need a budget. I’m going to be a doctor.”

Cute children and cute crafts are expected at Fiddlers, an event that draws 15,000 spectators to Athens. Across the way from the craft booth where Willow played was a booth children may want to avoid.

Jeff Barbe of Athens had paddles for sale, but his paddles included life lessons burned into the wood, such as, “Go And Sin No More.”

“God gave me a sense of humor,” Barbe said, as he used a tool to burn letters into the wood.

“When I started putting sayings on the paddles, they really began selling fast. I sold probably 75 last year at Fiddlers.”

One paddle had the popular television saying “Is That Your Final Answer” from the show, “Who Want’s To Be A Millionaire.”

Another had a slang term that conjured up funny images. That paddle simply said, “Smoking Crack.”

Children with painted faces, unique crafts like comedic paddles, food and music resume Saturday at 8:30 a.m. The event climaxes sometime Saturday night with the Fiddle Off, which determines who will win the Fiddle King title.

The cost for Saturday is $10, and tickets are available at the gate.

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